Bearcats Overcome 12-Point Deficit for 67-64 Win at PLU

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University trailed Pacific Lutheran University by 12 points with 5:51 remaining, but the Bearcats ended the game with a 15-0 run to defeat the Lutes, 67-64, in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Jan. 12. Willamette improved to 3-10 on the season, 1-3 in the NWC, while PLU fell to 7-6 overall, 0-4 in the NWC.

The Lutes held a 64-52 lead after Emily Voorhies scored on a layup with just under six minutes to go. It was Pacific Lutheran's final basket of the game.

Willamette commanded the rest of the contest, as the 'Cats gradually reduced PLU's advantage. Over the next three minutes, Laura Payne (Sr., G, Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) scored twice, while Molly Fillion (Jr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) and Jenny Fillion (Jr., G, Silverton, OR/Silverton HS/Linn-Benton CC) each tallied one basket. The Bearcats pulled within four points, 64-60, with 2:59 on the clock.

A jumper by Tracie Nygaard (Sr., F, Knappa, OR/Knappa HS) cut the margin to two-points with 2:14 left, then Payne moved Willamette in front 65-64 on a 3-pointer at the 1:31 mark. Molly Fillion tacked on two free throws with eight seconds left to increase the lead to three points. Trinity Gibbons of PLU missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Payne led all scorers with 19 points. She connected on 7 of 13 on field goals and sank 5 of 10 three-pointers. Jenny Fillion provided 17 points, four rebounds and three steals. Molly Fillion finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals.

Kyle Haag topped the Lutes with 16 points. Amy Spieker scored 13 points to go with three assists and two blocked shots. Gibbons recorded 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Voorhies earned eight points and grabbed eight boards.

PLU held a 36-34 lead at halftime. After WU tied the score two times early in the second period, the Lutes went on a 11-2 run to take a 49-40 advantage at the 15:36 mark. PLU maintained the lead until Willamette's decisive run.

At the start of the game, Willamette forced a quick turnover, then took a 3-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Payne. WU also held a 9-5 lead with 17:21 left in the half, before the Lutes countered with an 8-0 run.

Willamette trailed by a single point, 22-21, after Payne launched another 3-pointer with 8:52 on the clock. Pacific Lutheran scored the next four points and later held a 30-24 margin with 5:27 remaining in the half. WU tied the game two times during the final minutes of the period, but Gibbons gave PLU its halftime lead by hitting a jumper with 1:15 to go.

PLU was stellar from the floor in the first half, when the Lutes hit 16 of 24 field goals (66.7%). In the second half, the Bearcats limited Pacific Lutheran to 32.4% shooting (11 of 34). The Lutes experienced a difficult night at the free throw line, with just 3 of 12 attempts (25.0%) going through the baskets.

The Bearcats put together a solid second half. Not only did Willamette frustrate PLU's offense, the 'Cats also connected on 54.2% of their shots (13 of 24) over the final 20 minutes to finish the game 25 of 52 overall (48.1%). WU made 8 of 13 free throws during the game.

Both teams shot well from 3-point range. WU converted 9 of 17 long-range shots (52.9%), with Payne sinking 5 of 10 from behind the arc. The Lutes were 7 of 12 on three-pointers, led by Haag (4 for 5) and Spieker (3 of 4).

The Lutes achieved a 35-31 rebounding edge. Voorhies grabbed eight boards for PLU, while Molly Fillion hauled down eight rebounds for the Bearcats. Gibbons added seven caroms for the Lutes and Payne hauled down six boards for Willamette.

The Bearcats ended an eight-game losing streak with the win. Willamette will return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Linfield College. Game time in McMinnville, Ore., is set for 6 p.m. (PST).

Willamette University 67, Pacific Lutheran University 64
Laura Payne led Willamette with 19 points against Pacific Lutheran.

Laura Payne led Willamette with 19 points against Pacific Lutheran.